|Publication number||US7765594 B1|
|Application number||US 10/921,478|
|Publication date||Jul 27, 2010|
|Priority date||Aug 18, 2004|
|Publication number||10921478, 921478, US 7765594 B1, US 7765594B1, US-B1-7765594, US7765594 B1, US7765594B1|
|Inventors||Jeremy Bennett, Robert Geiger|
|Original Assignee||Symantec Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (16), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (3), Classifications (10), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to computer environments. More specifically, enhancing security capabilities of a network is disclosed.
Computer security is an important issue in electronic communication systems. Since devices that operate on the endpoints of networks (e.g. client or server computers, networking devices, etc.) are often vulnerable to attacks, many existing security systems are configured to operate on endpoint devices. Security measures such as network data monitoring and virus scanning tend to be computationally intensive operations. Security functions and other duties of the system such as executing non-security related applications and performing networking functions typically compete for system resources, including processing cycles, memory and storage space. The devices often have to make trade-offs between system security and system performance.
Typically, large networks attempt to resolve this problem by deploying security measures within the network. Devices such as firewalls and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems can usually prevent malicious network traffic from reaching the endpoints. For security devices to properly function, it is usually required that all network traffic must pass through the links secured by the security device. While the requirement is often met in switched networks, it is sometimes unfulfilled in environments where shared medium such as a wireless network is used. Thus, network level security protections are often less effective for devices that are connected to a shared medium such as a broadcast wireless network.
Although IDS's, firewalls and other network monitors can detect attacks, they typically cannot intercept attacks before the attacks reach the endpoint devices. To increase the level of security protection and prevent attacks, the devices are typically required to devote more resources to perform security functions locally. Furthermore, an IDS deployed on a wireless network typically cannot monitor the entire network without deploying numerous sensors throughout the broadcast radius. The cost associated with the deployment and maintenance of the sensors is sometimes prohibitive for some wireless networks.
It would be desirable to have a technique that could prevent attacks on endpoint devices, especially devices connected to a shared medium. It would also be useful if the technique could monitor networking environments such as wireless networks without requiring extensive new deployment of sensors and without significantly sacrificing productivity and performance.
Various embodiments of the invention are disclosed in the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings.
The invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a process, an apparatus, a system, a composition of matter, a computer readable medium such as a computer readable storage medium or a computer network wherein program instructions are sent over optical or electronic communication links. In this specification, these implementations, or any other form that the invention may take, may be referred to as techniques. In general, the order of the steps of disclosed processes may be altered within the scope of the invention.
A detailed description of one or more embodiments of the invention is provided below along with accompanying figures that illustrate the principles of the invention. The invention is described in connection with such embodiments, but the invention is not limited to any embodiment. The scope of the invention is limited only by the claims and the invention encompasses numerous alternatives, modifications and equivalents. Numerous specific details are set forth in the following description in order to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. These details are provided for the purpose of example and the invention may be practiced according to the claims without some or all of these specific details. For the purpose of clarity, technical material that is known in the technical fields related to the invention has not been described in detail so that the invention is not unnecessarily obscured.
Enhancing security capabilities of a network is disclosed. In some embodiments, a request is sent to one or more deputy devices when a security threat is detected. The deputy devices are asked to perform certain deputized functions that are not ordinarily performed, such as monitoring data not usually monitored by the devices, taking actions against a designated device, etc. In some embodiments, the deputy devices are selected from a set of candidate devices on the network.
Under normal operating conditions, the devices devote most of the available resources to perform their primary functions. If, however, the network enters a heightened state of security (for example, if it is determined that a device may have been compromised), security authority 116 can request other devices on the same network to perform certain tasks that are not normally performed by the devices. Assigning security related functions to other devices on the network when appropriate is referred to as “deputizing”. More details of deputizing are discussed below.
Upon detecting a security threat, a request is sent to one or more networked devices (204). The request asks the devices to perform functions that are not ordinarily performed. In some embodiments, the networked devices are requested to monitor data that is not ordinarily monitored by the networked devices during normal state of operation. For example, the network devices may be requested to monitor traffic patterns on the network, activities of its neighbors, data stored on hard drive or other local storage, or any other data that may be useful for security purposes. In some embodiments, the networked devices are requested to perform security tasks such as scanning for viruses, generating log information, disabling certain services, etc. In this example, data sent by the networked devices in response to the request, such as monitored data and status information is then received (206) and further processed by the security authority (208).
The techniques described above are also applicable to networks that include wireless devices.
An initial message is sent to the candidate devices (508). In some embodiments, the message is sent via a broadcast protocol. The message includes authentication information such as a digital signature for the security authority, which is used by the candidate devices to verify the identity of the security authority and determine whether to accept requests from the security authority. In some embodiments, the message includes information about the suspicious activity or device that triggered the alert, such as an internet protocol (IP) address, a MAC address, a certain data or behavior pattern, etc. The candidate devices are requested to observe certain activities or events and send responses to the security authority.
Responses are then received from the candidate devices (510). In some embodiments, the candidate devices observe traffic or activities for a predetermined amount of time and send responses based on the observations. The responses are useful for determining which ones of the candidate devices are suitable to perform the deputized security functions. Based on the responses, one or more deputy devices are selected from the candidate devices (512). Candidate devices that are not selected are freed (514). In some embodiments, the response from a particular candidate device may indicate the relationship between the candidate device and a suspicious device that is under watch. For example, if the designated device is located sufficiently far from a candidate device such that the candidate device cannot detect the activities or presence of the designated device, the candidate device is deemed unsuitable for carrying out the deputizing request and is not selected as a deputy device. In some embodiments, the responses from devices that are closely located are examined and correlated to ensure that the data received is consistent. Devices may be classified into different groups, for example an uninvolved group that cannot detect the activities of the designated device, a monitoring group that can detect the activities of the designated device, and a suspicious group that gave inconsistent response and may have been potentially compromised.
A request is then sent to the deputy devices (516). Data received from the deputy devices is processed (518). The processing steps may depend on the implementation of the security authority as well as the context of the received data. The security authority may take further actions such as alerting the administrators, preventing the designated device from sending or receiving data, changing the security alert level, etc. When the threat is eventually determined to be over, a reset signal is sent to the deputy devices (520), indicating that the deputy devices can stop performing the deputized functions and resume their normal activities.
At some point, the agent on the device receives a request sent by the authenticated security authority to eligible agents (618). Deputized functions normally not performed by the device are then carried out according to the request (620). The agent periodically checks to determine whether a reset signal has been received (622). If no reset signal has been received, the agent and/or the networked device continue to execute deputized functions. If a reset signal has been received, execution of deputized functions is stopped and normal activities are resumed (624).
The operations of the security authority and the agent shown in
The deputy devices gather information requested and send responses to security authority 402. The security authority may use the information to take further actions against designated device 414, such as blocking data transfer to or from the designated device. In some embodiments, the responses from several deputy devices are compared to determine if there is conflicting information. If there is conflicting information, the security authority may draw certain conclusions take further actions. For example, the security authority may determine based on the conflicting information that one or more of the deputy devices may have been compromised and should be scrutinized more closely. The status of such a device may be changed from a deputy device to a designated device. At some point, the security authority or a system administrator may determine that the threat is over. A reset signal is then sent to all deputy devices to allow them to resume their normal functions.
A technique for enhancing security capabilities of a network has been disclosed. The technique is applicable to networks that include wired devices, wireless devices or both. Deputizing security functions to devices enhances the security capabilities of the network during times of tightened security, and allows the devices to efficiently use available resources to carry out their primary duties under normal operating conditions.
Although the foregoing embodiments have been described in some detail for purposes of clarity of understanding, the invention is not limited to the details provided. There are many alternative ways of implementing the invention. The disclosed embodiments are illustrative and not restrictive.
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|U.S. Classification||726/22, 726/23, 713/188, 726/24|
|International Classification||G06F11/00, G06F12/14|
|Cooperative Classification||H04L63/1408, H04L63/1441|
|European Classification||H04L63/14D, H04L63/14A|
|Dec 6, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SYMANTEC CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BENNETT, JEREMY;GEIGER, ROBERT;REEL/FRAME:015429/0046
Effective date: 20041104
|Jun 11, 2010||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SYMANTEC CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ADDRESS CHANGE;ASSIGNOR:SYMANTEC CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:024521/0114
Effective date: 20090905
|Dec 23, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4